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The Irish Independent reports that the taxman will
use GPS-style technology to help work out your property tax bill.
Sophisticated aerial mapping will be used to measure a home's proximity to
shops, transport links, schools and other amenities that have a bearing on a
A 'deprivation index' will also be used to measure the affluence or poverty
of an area, which will also have a bearing on the value and the amount of tax
that should be paid.
Homeowners will receive letters in the coming weeks telling them how much the
Revenue thinks their home is worth and the tax band the property falls into.
The revelations show the hi-tech lengths the Revenue is going to in order to
clamp down on those who knowingly undervalue their home for the new charge.
It is employing a sophisticated database which calculates a property's
location in relation to facilities that increase its value.
Aerial maps and GPS-style systems will measure "the distance from each
property to a series of amenities and services".
These will include train and Luas lines, airports, health services, schools,
shops and emergency services such as garda stations.
The data will then be used by the Revenue to arrive at its estimate of how
much every home in the country is worth and how much property tax should be
It could lead to more protests from people living in cities, where there are
more amenities close to hand, who claim they will unfairly pay more tax than
those in rural areas.
Dublin city dwellers are likely to pay an average property tax of €405
compared with their rural counterparts, who will pay about €249.
Once Revenue has compiled its estimates they will be posted to every
homeowner in the country within a matter of weeks. The tax will be levied at a
rate of 0.18pc of house value, with a higher "mansion tax" rate of 0.25pc on
values over €1m. There will be up to 19 different valuation bands, starting at
under €100,000 and increasing in €50,000 tranches.
But the tax is still effectively self-assessed as homeowners will decide
themselves which band to put their house into.
The self-assessed value will override the Revenue estimate, but as
previously revealed in the Irish Independent, those who deviate from the
provided estimates face the prospects of checks, inspections and challenges.
If the Revenue's estimate is used by a homeowner, they will not be
Those who do not respond for the property tax will be liable
anyway, and will pay the charge based on the Revenue estimate of their
To help the Revenue arrive at its estimates, a GPS-like system
called GeoDirectory is now being used to measure the distance from homes to
It is unclear if this is costing the Revenue significant extra
money – the system already exists as a joint venture between An Post and
Ordnance Survey Ireland.
GeoDirectory manages Ireland's only complete database of commercial
and residential buildings.
Each of the buildings in the database has a unique identification,
and the system can specify the use of around 90pc of buildings in the
country – if they are, for example, a newsagents, school, takeaway or office
The technology is already used by city and county councils to help
co-ordinate services such as local roads, libraries, sanitation and the fire
It is also used by various state agencies to analyse the
population, assess which services are needed in which areas and to maintain
records of every commercial and residential address in the State.
A Revenue spokeswoman confirmed that the proximity of amenities
would be taken into account when estimating the amount of tax it thinks
everyone should pay.
"A range of data sources is being analysed to assist in providing
this valuation guidance," the spokeswoman said.
Other data feeding into the Revenue include stamp duty receipts
from 2010 on, electricity bills, rental details and records from the
controversial €100 household charge.
The spokeswoman said the GeoDirectory "provides information on
property location and type; and spatially derived data that indicate
relative distances of all residential properties from a series of key
amenities and services including transport, health, education and emergency
The location data will also feed into a special online guide which
will be set up on the Revenue website early next month to allow people to
value their properties.
Among other things, the guide will take into account whether the
property is semi-detached or detached or if it is an apartment, when it was
built and the average prices of properties in the same area.
A deprivation index will be used to measure the "relative affluence
or disadvantage of a particular geographical area using data compiled from
The deprivation index was compiled for Pobal, a government agency
that works for social inclusion, and is mainly based on the 2011 Census.
The Irish Independent also reports that a new plan to offer businesses a €1 cash refund for every €4 spent hiring
someone off the dole will be weighted in favour of the long-term unemployed.
The level of subsidy will depend on how long the worker has been on the dole –
with extra incentives for hiring people who have been unemployed for more than
Depending upon the wages of the new staff member, the plan is expected to be
worth around €5,000 a year to the employer.
And although the refund will be paid for two years, most of the money will be
paid over in the first year, to make it more attractive to employers.
The new 'Jobs Plus' plan is aimed at getting employers to hire the long-term
unemployed and will be included in the Coalition's Action Plan for Jobs for
It will be one of the headline proposals in the plan, known as 'disruptive
reforms', which are aimed at changing the way the Government does business.
The scheme will be more lucrative for employers and easier to operate than
The refund continues for two years, as long as the worker is still on the books.
The employer has to commit to take the worker on for a full year at least.
But, cutting through the red tape, the employer doesn't have to prove they are
hiring an additional member of staff.
However, there will be safeguards in place to ensure the scheme is not abused.
It is understood the plan will be announced by the Government this week after
being cleared by Cabinet.
The refund will equate to 25pc of the gross cost of hiring someone in a job
worth about €18,000 to €20,000 a year.
The gross cost would include the basic wage packet, PRSI and USC, where it
Under a tiered system, the refund will be more generous where the worker was
unemployed for more than two years.
The plan will replace the existing schemes available for hiring extra workers,
such as the Revenue Job Assist and the Employer Job (PRSI) Incentive Scheme.
The Government is aiming to get away from tax relief-based schemes to help with
the firm's immediate cashflow.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton came up with the new proposals after employers
complained that existing schemes were too complicated.
The Department of Social Protection came up with a way of administering the
The Action Plan for Jobs 2013 will be approved by Cabinet tomorrow after being
put together by a range of department and agencies over recent weeks, including
the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the Department of the
Taoiseach and Forfas.
The Irish Times reports that
the Government is facing resistance from the troika against any move to use
gains from the Anglo Irish Bank promissory note deal to soften next year’s
The troika has taken a disapproving view of claims on the Labour wing of the
Coalition that the Government should ease the deficit-cutting plan.
Many at the top of Fine Gael favour waiting longer, prompting expectations in
Government circles that the clamour to allocate gains from the deal will
dominate the budget debate in coming months.
However, concern is building within the troika that early moves to relieve
pressure on the budget could damage the push to regain access to private debt
There is further concern that talk of extracting early fiscal gains from the
deal might hinder the effort to prise longer bailout loan maturities from other
euro zone countries. In addition, there is anxiety in the troika – comprising
the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and the European
Commission – that such talk could weaken the Government’s hand in the Croke Park
public sector pay talks.
The Government is obliged to cut the deficit by €3.1 billion in 2014 and €2
billion in 2015, a total of €5.1 billion. Following the arrangement with the ECB
to replace the promissory notes with long-term bonds, the Government believes it
has scope to reduce the €5.1 billion by €1 billion in the two years.
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton made a play in a Dáil debate last
week to start using the proceeds from the deal this year, saying there was “a
limit beyond which additional austerity becomes counterproductive”. Such remarks
were very poorly received in troika circles.
“This doesn’t go down at all well,” said a European source in Brussels familiar
with the rescue programme. “It doesn’t send the right signal to the other member
Although Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar took an opposing view to Ms Burton
in the Dáil debate, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said on Friday the deal will bring “a
tangible benefit for people” in the next budget.
However, the European source said Dublin remains within a formal “excessive
deficit procedure” with the EU authorities, under which the Government is
obliged to use windfall gains to pay down debt.
“The council decision is still binding on Ireland,” the European source said in
reference to the deficit-cutting plan agreed with the council of EU finance
Citing an expression made famous by former finance minister Charlie McCreevy,
the source said suggestions that the gains would be used immediately to ease the
fiscal adjustment were redolent of the “if I have it, I’ll spend it” mentality.
Such claims could be read as a sign Ireland was not willing to help itself. This
was particularly so when the troika was urging other euro zone countries and
non-euro EU members to help Ireland further by lengthening the duration of
rescue loans from the European Financial Stability Facility and the European
The source said additional measures might be required to ensure a smooth exit
from the bailout programme after the summer.
The source also said the troika and market investors saw that Ireland’s primary
budget deficit was still very high, and added the pace of fiscal consolidation
set out in the current plan was “if anything too gradual”. There was an argument
that Ireland “should have done more, earlier” to tackle the deficit.
The Irish Times also reports that
the Central Bank has raised a number of significant issues that could prevent
the successful authorisation of the VHI as an insurer. In particular, it has
questioned the effectiveness of the risk equalisation scheme under which the VHI
is compensated for its older and more expensive customer base.
The European Commission has given the Government until the end of this year
to have the VHI authorised or face sanctions including fines and a State aid
inquiry. Authorisation would put the VHI on an equal footing with other insurers
Aviva, Laya and Glo in terms of capital and solvency requirements. The
Government may have to inject up to €200 million into the VHI to bring it into
At an initial meeting with the Central Bank last month, Department of Health
officials and representatives of the VHI gave conflicting assessments of the
effectiveness of the risk equalisation scheme. Under the scheme, other insurers
levy their customers and pay the funds into a central pool from which the VHI
receives a compensating payment. The VHI claimed the scheme was 55 per cent
effective and that a revised scheme due to come into effect at the end of next
month was marginally worse. The department claimed the scheme was 70 to 75 per
cent effective and would be improved with the goal of being up to 90 per cent
Level of effectiveness
According to minutes of the meeting seen by The Irish Times, the Central Bank
was “puzzled” at the difference in views about the effectiveness of the scheme.
Department officials and VHI representatives replied that “this was being
actively reviewed” and they hoped to have greater clarity within the next month.
“It was absolutely clear the Central Bank is hugely concerned by the level of
effectiveness of the scheme and, most particularly, as it affects the VHI’s
financial position,” according to the minutes.
Deputy governor of the bank Matthew Elderfield “could not understand” how an
application from the VHI could be considered without clarity around Government
policy for risk equalisation.
The Irish Examiner reports that
use of advanced traceability systems in the agri-food processing chain has
helped underpin Ireland’s global reputation for food excellence, says one expert
in this technology field.
Gerard Foskin, chief executive of business solutions firm Simply Dynamics, says
Irish food companies are leaders both within the EU and globally when it comes
Among other services, Simply Dynamics has a shelf-integration software package
to manage and report on factory floor production, which it delivers with food
technology company Emydex.
Among Simply Dynamics’ clients is Horgan’s Delicatessen Supplies in Mitchelstown,
Co Cork, a food retailer and distributor to multiples such as Tesco, Dunnes
Stores, Super-quinn, Marks & Spencer, SuperValu, and Aldi.
Horgan’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system allows it to share real-time
product, pricing, inventory, and invoicing information with multiples. The
contract is valued at €200,000 over three years.
“Irish agri-food companies’ traceability standards are way ahead of their
competitors,” said Mr Foskin. “The sector has been very conscious about quality.
That comes at a cost. We are not going to be the cheapest in Europe, but the
sector is delivering on its promise of being high quality.”
Simply Dynamics’ ERP solution is based on Microsoft Dynamics’ NAV. Food
companies also use its Electronic Data Interchange systems. Its voice-based
warehouse tracking delivers rapid data transfer, giving instantly traceable
digital data without having to key in the information. Very efficient, low cost.
But, if so many Irish food companies are buying into this technology, what is
the likely source of the horsemeat scandal?
Mr Foskin explains that quality control is like an inverted food pyramid,
monitoring the intake of ingredients at the plant through to the final
distributed processed product.
For EU food plants, data from each link in that chain is monitored. The problems
are most likely to arrive when “middle men” such as non-EU traders move goods
from one EU-approved plant via a third party, or where goods are relabelled.
“There needs to be greater vigilance and control of this area by suppliers and
manufacturers,” Mr Foskin said. “With lasagne, for instance, there are four
batch processes, with the bolognese sauce, cream sauces, etc. There is a lot of
traceability in the chain.”
Food production companies, shops, and restaurants now understand it is essential
to perform audits themselves as they want assurance that if they are called upon
because of a food safety problem they can stop the problem before their brand is
Mr Foskin said: “Because of the low-value nature of some retail foods, such as a
lasagne or a box of burgers, the traceability is in batches rather than
individual units. That is why when there is a need to recall, it is the
warehouse which recalls everything off the shelf of every retailer, based on the
“Ten years ago, when volumes were lower, the manufacturer would have known which
store he’d sent which unit to. Now he sends all of his batches to the warehouse.
The manufacturer doesn’t know which exact store the product has gone to.”
Simply Dynamics’ ERP system allows backwards and forwards traceability. The
manufacturer can trace goods back from the finished lot and supplier number.
Keeping the costs of this traceability demands smart, low-cost technology.
Mr Foskin said: “A lot of our warehousing is being done with voice-based systems
that are fully integrated back into the ERP system. Manufacturers are constantly
under pressure in terms of cost, and this approach delivers savings.”
All products are required to have a specific lot number that would allow for the
product to be returned to the supplier in the case of a recall. The Dynamics NAV
records lot number of product and packaging, name, address, phone number, fax
number, email address, date of receipt, transportation carrier, bill of lading
number, and mode of transportation.
It also records all relevant QC test data, shelf life, data on movements,
inventory, allergens, tests, incubations, and has a management system for
handling complaints. This system is typical of the traceability heights attained
by Irish food companies in recent years.
“Very rigid QC and QA systems are needed, which comes back to vendor rating,” Mr
“Vendor rating gives some payback for food manufacturers, who know that there
are good and bad suppliers out there.
“This technology gives them firm data to back up their stringent controls. It
tracks late deliveries, short deliveries, quality of packaging, etc.
“When you rate a vendor, the payback comes when you negotiate future contracts
with a supplier. You have the data on their poor performance.
“The Irish food industry deserves a pat on the back in terms of the quality
standards and efficiency it delivers. It is a flagship industry, and
understandably so. I have worked all over the world in this area for many years.
Irish standards are way ahead of the competition.”
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